The Rockets currently rank sixth in the Western Conference at 40-24, and have just a 1.5-game cushion on the seventh-place Mavericks. However, they’ll also have a chance to move up in the standings when play resumes, since they’re tied with the fifth-place Thunder and are only one game back of the fourth-place Jazz.
There has been a little uncertainty about whether head coach Mike D’Antoni will be on the sidelines when play resumes, since D’Antoni’s age (69) may put him at increased risk of suffering more serious symptoms – or even dying – if he contracts the coronavirus.
However, speaking to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey dismissed the idea that D’Antoni won’t be part of the NBA’s restart in Orlando. Morey also recently appeared on an episode of the Pomp Podcast with Anthony Pompliano (video link) and addressed a number of topics, including his perception of Rockets superstar James Harden and why he feels as though the NBA should play shorter postseason series.
Here, via MacMullan, Drew Shiller of NBC Bay Area, and the Pomp Podcast, are a few of Morey’s more interesting comments on those subjects:
On D’Antoni participating in the resumed season:
“Mike will be coaching our team. It would be such a huge disadvantage to lose him. We would never stand for that. In fairness to the league, they set up a process whereby everyone will have to submit a medical record. I’m sure the doctors told them that some people over a certain age shouldn’t go. But Mike is in great health. He’s in better shape than some 40-year-old coaches we have. Besides, I think his dad lived to be 108 or something.”
On the general perception of James Harden:
“I don’t think the media is super fair with him. … Part of it is he has a tight circle of people that he trusts. With those people who he knows have his best interest at heart and who he’s had a history with, he’s very gregarious, very open, very smart — just this great guy. And with everyone else, he’s not the opposite — he’s just reserved. He’s not someone who is going to be a big media guy or things like that. So, I think that hurts him a little bit. But I can I can tell you privately he’s like a basketball genius. He’s a great quality human being.”
On why Morey feels as if he hasn’t held up his end of the bargain with Harden:
“We’ve worked together for eight or nine years now and I couldn’t have a better partner to try and win a title with. And in fact, most days I wake up saying, ‘I’ve let him down because I haven’t gotten him the right players to win a title.'”
On why he thinks the NBA should have shorter playoff series:
“It’s the hardest to win a title in the NBA. There’s less variance. The favorites have a much bigger edge. … On an individual game basis, an NBA game is generally the most predictable of all the major sports. And just to make sure the right team wins, we play seven times. We should be one-and-done and the NFL should play seven times, for example, if you wanted to try to balance out the general variance.
“In my opinion, we should have shorter series so there’s more variance injected, because right now it’s too deterministic. It’s why you’ll see teams win six times in eight years or three times in five years. … It’s rare that you just win one, because once you get a systemic edge – which has happened many times, it’s usually you have the best player in the league – you end up winning multiple times.”